I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and is looking forward to an exciting New Year. When thinking about this blog and what I want to do in 2012, I realized that I very rarely share books I’m reading. In fact, I wish that other blogs did this more too because I love to know what people are reading and what I should check out. So, in the new year, I plan to post a little more about what I’m reading and what is informing and influencing my own writing.
So, here it goes. I currently have a few different books cracked, and I’ll share those with you.
I just ripped through Compendium 1 of the hit graphic novel/comic series The Walking Dead, which most people now know as a hit TV show on AMC. Compendium 1 features the first 48 issues of The Walking Dead. I’ll admit that I’m not a big comic guy or a huge fan of graphic novels, but I do love The Walking Dead, and not just because it features zombies and gore. I like the fact that no one is safe in the comics and several of the key characters die. It makes it a constant page-turner. In fact, by the end of Compendium 1, only one main character is left that was present in issue 1. I also like how the main characters, especially the protagonist, Rick Grimes, a cop, are often faced with tough moral choices that question just how much humanity remains in a postapocalyptic world. These characters unravel more and more as they lose friends and loved ones, and you’re not quite sure if there’s any hope at all left for them. If you like the TV show, you should check out the graphic novels. Though the show is good, the graphic novels offer more character depth, conflict, and plenty of zombie action!
Regarding poetry, I’m currently reading two different collections right now- What Work Is by Philip Levine and Selected Poems 1966-1987 by Seamus Heaney. I often return to Levine’s work because I find his working-class portraits utterly beautiful and much needed in a time of global austerity and assaults on the middle and lower classes by the top 1 percent. Very few poets have influenced me more than Levine. I like to study how he depicts and humanizes his characters, how he makes the reader care about empy warehouses in Detroit and aging factory workers. His poems push beyond mere description into statements about humanity or meditative reflections.
Heaney reminds me a little of Levine in the sense that he too sometimes writes about the working- class, including field hands and drunken boatmen, among others. However, Levine is known for his longer, descriptive, narrative poems, and Heaney often employs tight, restrictive forms. If you’re a poet or like poetry and haven’t checked out Levine or Heaney, you should. The local library or bookstore should have plenty of their collections.
Finally, I just started Hemingway’s Boat by Paul Hendrickson, a bio on Hem that focuses on the years 1934, when Hemingway first achieved major fame, to 1961, when he committed suicide. I’m only about 50 pages in, but I like it thus far. The book uses various images and the history of Hemingway’s boat, Pilar, to address the twists and turns of his life and his struggle to be a good man in the midst of so much fame. What impresses me about the book so far is the personal side of Hemingway it shows. Included are various letters to his sons and friends that show a far less macho side of the writer that we aren’t used to seeing.
Feel free to tell me what you’re reading or what’s on your book list for 2012.